“I’m sorry I wasn’t here when you arrived but hopefully you found everything you needed. We’re not used to guests and I imagine that Stolid has some plan for you but if not I would feel guilty about leaving you to your own devices but perhaps that is what you would prefer.”
“Do you know where Stolid is?” Lizzie asked. “I suppose we ought to ask him.”
“Yes,” Elena answered and she looked worried. “He headed down to the lake. I thought he was going for a swim but he was sitting on the shore when I last saw him. I think he’s still there.”
“Shall I go and ask him?” Paris suggested. “No I’ll go,” Timonthy said roughly as he had a sudden fear, encouraged by Elena’s expression, that all was not well with Stolid. Blast the man!
He strode off before anyone decided to follow him and made his way down to the lake. It was easy to find the way. as the whole garden seemed to be designed to lead down to the water, with paths lined with arrow like trees. Stolid was not easy to find, sheltering in the leeside of a plant somewhere between bamboo and a reed bed.
“Good morning, Stolid,” Timonthy greeted him cheerfully.
“Good morning,” Stolid answered. He turned round briefly to face him and then turned away again.
“What’s the matter, Stolid? You look terrible.” Stolid stared at him with eyes which did not focus but looked beyond him as if contemplating eternal damnation
“Johnathon says he wants to leave me,” Stolid said with a tragic attempt at a cheerful shrug.
Timonthy looked pityingly at him, “Johnathon died over a year ago, Stolid.”
“Well I thought he had too, and that hurt bad enough but this seems even worse. At least I believed he loved me then. Now I know I was deluded my whole life.” Stolid vanished quickly into the garden.
It would never have been a sustaining situation, Timonthy supposed but it was a shame that Koa had decided to mess everything up right now, He was making his way back along the lake slowly and wondered where Stolid had disappeared to but he saw no signs.
Then he saw the person he least wanted to talk to in the whole world but it was inevitable that they would speak now. “Good morning,” Koa said. He sounded distracted not his normal urbane self. “Do you know where Stolid is?”
“I was just speaking to him by the lakeside,” Timonthy admitted, “but he left and I don’t know where he is now. I want to ask what are you playing at, Koa? Do you know that Stolid thinks you are Johnathon?”
“I know he does,” Koa said and he sounded nervous.
“Then what the hell are you playing at? The man has lost his mind and you seem to have taken advantage of that. Have you no compunction?”
“Stolid’s not mad,” Koa squirmed. “He’s in complete control of things. There’s a good reason why he thinks I am Johnathon,”
“Why is that?” Timonthy asked heavily.
“It’s not important at the moment,” Koa muttered as he began walking away. “I need to find him. You know what he’s like Timonthy. He’s taken something I was trying to discuss the wrong way and we need to talk.”
He said this over his shoulder as he moved away back towards the arch but Timonthy hurried to catch him up.
“What do you mean it’s not important,” he panted. “It’s important to Stolid…and to me. I don’t want him to be made a fool of.”
“Do you want to take your hand off me,” Koa said through gritted teeth. “We have never fought and I do not want to start now, at your time of life.”
“Tell me what the good reason is then,” Timonthy said loosening his grip on the other man’s sleeve.
“You won’t believe me if I told you,” Koa muttered again.
“People keep telling me that,” Timonthy snapped.
“Well perhaps that is because it is true and if everyone is telling you the same thing perhaps you need to open your mind.”
“What is the reason?” Timonthy repeated determined not to be put off.
“I am Johnathon,” Koa said looking straight into Timonthy’s face as if willing him to believe him
“No you’re not,” Timonthy said and wondered how Stolid had been persuaded to believe this.
“You see what I mean,” Koa said exasperated. “Now I really have got to find Stolid before he does something I might regret.”
Timonthy was left looking after him with an expression of frustration.
“I know what Lizzie got you for your fortieth birthday present,” Koa shouted back without turning round.